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Good Samaritan Heeds Coyote Cries for Help

by Elizabeth Kricfalusi

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Photo by Carmel de Bertaut

On a Sunday evening in late April 2008, Monique Lee received a phone call from a UCSC student (who prefers to remain anonymous). The student and his girlfriend had heard cries coming from outside his off-campus dorm room and they had discovered two young coyote pups at the entrance to a den eight feet up a cliff face.

Monique, who began her rehabilitation experiences as a volunteer with the WCSV in 1999, is the go-to coyote person for Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz. The student told her he had spotted the pups several times over the previous day, but had seen no sign of their mother. Monique asked him to try to contain the pups and she would come check them out.
However, when he went back, the pups had retreated back into their den where he couldn’t reach them. He left them
some food and water and gave up for the day.

He returned the next day but still had no luck capturing the animals. Monique then contacted her fellow volunteer, Nanette Hardin, who went that evening with her husband, Dave Zollo, to try to reach the pups, even trying to increase the opening of the den—again without success. She noted, however, there appeared to be not two, but four pups inside.
On Tuesday, Monique, Nanette, and the student brought pick-axes and other tools and went to work. After three hours of clinging to the steep slope and working to widen the opening, Monique was finally able to reach in and grab one of the pups by the hair and pull him out.

“Until that point, we weren’t sure if they needed our help or not,” said Monique. “But when we felt how ice-cold he was, we knew it was a rescue.”

After the tenacious team had pulled out four pups and were preparing to leave, they suddenly discovered two more pups inside the den. When they finally had all six in hand, Monique took them home where she was able to warm them up, hydrate them, and offer them some formula. The pups were about 2-3 weeks old and weighed between 400-600 grams.
Because Native Animal Rescue doesn’t have the facilities for housing coyotes, Monique had already contacted WCSV’s Animal Care Coordinator, Carmel de Bertaut, who provided home care for two weeks. She then brought them back to the Wildlife Center where they were housed indoors for a few weeks, then moved into the outdoor predatory mammal
enclosure. There, they continued to thrive for another four and a half months. During this time, more coyotes continued to arrive at the Center.

Over two days in early October, 12 coyotes were successfully released in the Diablo foothills. The WCSV wishes to extend our gratitude to that one compassionate college student—and Native Animal Rescue volunteers Monique, Nanette, and
Dave—who refused to give up on these helpless animals and whose persistent efforts gave the young pups their
greatest possible chance at survival.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of the WCSV newsletter, Tracks. Download the PDF version here.

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